International travel is always a risk. In usual times, students, scholars or faculty members who travel outside of the United States risk being denied re-entry. Due to COVID-19, these risks are amplified. International travel has been greatly disrupted; travel restrictions and bans are constantly being added and changed.
ISSS cannot guarantee that any student, scholar or faculty member who travels internationally will not face issues while trying to re-enter the United States.
What ALL Travelers Need to Know
There is a global requirement that noncitizens who are nonimmigrants traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world must provide documentation that they are fully vaccinated. For more details see this reference. In addition to proof of vaccination, all fully vaccinated air travelers will also continue to have to show results of a negative coronavirus test taken one day preceding their flight's departure from another country traveling to the US.
What You Need to Do
- If you choose to travel despite the risks, it’s advisable to check into options for travel insurance in case your return is impossible or delayed. If you do travel, you should be sure to discuss with your academic advisor and your department the implications of any possible travel problems and delays in returning to the U.S.
- Stay in touch with ISSS and check your email inbox (and spam) frequently.
- Monitor reliable news sources and trusted official sources for information about changing policies including important U.S. government policy and regulations.
- If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the Student or Scholar Immigration Specialist assigned to your college or visa category type: https://international.uky.edu/isss/meet-isss-staff
Students planning on departing the USA should complete the Travel Request eform in iCAT. SEVP has granted permission for Designated School Officials (DSOs) to provide a digital signature and email the I-20 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Students in J-1 status should plan on picking up the DS-2019 from the ISSS main office prior to departure or paying for the shipment of their DS-2019 to them internationally.
If you need to remain in the United States beyond the final day of your grace period, you may continue maintaining status by applying for OPT, being admitted to a new academic program, changing status if eligible, or traveling to another country until returning to your home country is possible.
If none of these options are appropriate, you may be able to stay in the country beyond the grace period by changing to B1/2 visitor visa status due to travel restrictions. It is recommended that you work with an attorney to be sure to meet the filing requirements and deadlines. You can find an attorney on the AILA website (https://www.aila.org/).
NOTE: This only applies to students in F-1 visa status. Students in J-1 visa status may be ineligible to change their status in the United States depending on whether you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement.